"As the pen rises from the page between words,
so the walker's feet rise and fall between pages, ....."Some of the best books are those discovered by accident, and the first book of the year for me is one of those, found in the travel section at Barnes & Noble while searching for something else.
Did you know there is ancient kinship between the words "narrative" or "story," and "way" or "path"? I didn't either, but this book by a foot-traveler and fellow at Cambridge took me on many journeys in the past two weeks.
The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane is just that, a record of his walking in England, Scotland, and elsewhere, as he covers hundreds of miles in physical geography and more in mental geography, writing of the relationship of landscape and self. I know the relationship of place to self most strongly in New Mexico.
I don't know how I've missed this author, so the discovery is double sweet. He's written Mountains of the Mind, about climbing, and The Wild Places also. I will find and read those.
It's my kind of journalism, going back to the original meanings of that word, though his work is often poetic and deeply spiritual in the oldest of ways.
He's fortunate to live in England where he can take off and walk the footpaths, which is almost impossible in automobile-ridden Oklahoma and America. Maybe that's why I like Hafer park so much, or Martin Park. Having tread the old paths at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico though, I deeply connect with the self discovery you find when walking. Who does not stop if briefly when crossing a path and wonder where it leads?
"The eye is enticed by a path, and the mind's eye too."My copy of the book is now marked and underlined, key words, strong phrases, fresh imagery, powerful verbs, or new words circled for more discovery, and new history and geography and people and language met around the bend of every path on every page. I only wish the book came with maps, because I had to go to Google to find the places I'd never heard of, but maybe that was his intention, since going on paths is self discovery. Thus I think I was meant to find this book, to attack my winter cabin fever, and to set me back on the paths of reading, and reawakening this blog, after semi-hibernation this winter.